Sustainable business operations

man in the tree
METRO fulfils its customers’ needs while utilising sustainable business processes. From transporting and storing goods to refrigerating fresh produce or maintaining our stores and offices – whatever we do, we do it sustainably. We invest in energy efficiency, conserve resources and avoid waste. This enables us to help protect the climate and the environment, reduce our running costs, fulfil legal requirements and anticipate new environmental regulations.

The food on our plates, the ingredients we sell in our markets around the world - everything has its origins in the fields, farms and waters of this planet. Our consumption requires valuable resources. But can we also give something back through our consumption? To find answers to this question, we have compared our consumption of resources with the value we create along the entire value chain - socially, ecologically and economically; from farm to fork. In 2018, we conducted our first sustainability accounting for the financial year 2016/2017. With our model of sustainable value creation, we can take a close look at the economic, ecological and social impacts of our business activities along the entire value chain and quantify them in monetary terms. This enables us to compare the significance of the impacts directly with each other and to demonstrate interactions. The results of the sustainability accounting show us where negative impacts can be mitigated and positive impacts strengthened. This approach thus supports our sustainability strategy, creates a differentiated basis for strategic decisions and helps to secure the long-term competitiveness of our company.

The results of our first sustainability accounting in a nutshell

  • METRO generates a positive net effect of € 26.7 billion per year along the entire value chain
  • For every Euro of negative impact to the environment and society, we create 3 € value on social, ecological and economic level.
  • Nearly 89% of the negative impacts can be located in upstream and downstream processes, i.e. in the production, processing and consumption of resources.
  • Because we trade with resources, the impact of our actions on the environment is significantly greater than that on society.

METRO wants to drastically reduce its climate-relevant emissions. Our aim is to bring about a 50% reduction in specific emissions of greenhouse gases per m² of sales floor by 2030. The level of emissions in 2011 forms the baseline. At all stores belonging to the new METRO, we invest in energy efficiency, use energy sparingly, and increase our employees' energy awareness. This commitment pays off. In 2016, for example, METRO opened a green wholesale store in Dongguan, China. Modernisation made it possible to halve the store’s energy consumption. Since September 2017 we take it even one step further in St Pölten, Austria with the first zero energy wholesale store. The 9,000 m2 photovoltaic system on the roof of the building produces around 1,100 MW of solar power per year, making METRO St Pölten self-sufficient in energy. Surplus solar energy is even made available at METRO charging stations to Top-Card customers at no cost for their electric vehicles.

More information about METRO's carbon footprint can be found for download in the following PDF and online in the latest Corporate Responsibility Report 2017/18.

METRO conserves natural resources, for example in its use of refrigerants and paper, its facilities management, and the running of its logistics fleet. The METRO environmental guidelines form the basis for our actions.

Our resource management also includes packaging. By 2018, we will have taken a critical look at how 10,000 own-brand products are packaged. Our aim is to reduce the environmental footprint of our packaging throughout its entire life cycle. It is also important to us that products and packaging materials are disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion. At the end of their useful lives, we look at how raw materials can be reclaimed or disposed of with the minimum environmental impact.

Over the past 50 years, plastic production has rapidly increased from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 322 million in 2015. Globally, between 5 to 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year. If this trend continues by 2050 we would find more plastic in the oceans than fish in terms of weight.

Plastic pollution causes yearly the death of more than one1 million seabirds and fishes and more than 100,000 marine mammals. Plastic thrown into the ocean can take 100 years to degrade and break down into microplastic particles, which can be easily mistaken with plankton by fish, and therefore eat it. This means that microplastics can be trapped in the fish’s tissue, enter our food chain, and end up on our plates and impacts our health.

It is our responsibility to create as little waste as possible. METRO is committed to the transition to a more circular economy, in which products and materials circulate at their highest value towards zero waste. This leads to a new plastic economy, in which, we REUSE, REPAIR and RECYCLE, and more sustainable materials are developed and promoted. In developing the packaging of our own brand products, we aim not only to improve the customer experience, but also to reduce the impact in the environment during the whole lifecycle. Our own brand packaging is developed to save product (protection of quality, integrity and easy usage), time (easy identification and convenient handling), space (practical storage), and waste (easy and environmental safe disposal).

METRO Cash & Carry continually strives for own brand packaging solutions that leverage the 3R’s principles:

  • REDUCE – To reduce the weight, the thickness, the dimension or the complexity of the packaging
  • RECYCLE - To use recycled or recyclable material
  • RENEW - To use renewable material


Report on Low-Carbon Solutions in the Consumer Goods Sector

The consumer goods sector consisting of manufacturers, transporters and distributors is one of the largest sectors of economic activity today. Present in our daily lives with household products and food, it represents about 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions across the whole value chain. This report showcases concrete examples of how the consumer goods sector is implementing low-carbon solutions. Solutions related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and technological innovation. In order to reduce their environmental footprint.


Sustainability - Food Waste Reduction TargetMETRO constantly strives to reduce food waste. We want to reduce food waste in our own operations by 50 per cent by 2025. We have committed to achieving this in a resolution of the Consumer Goods Forum.

To ensure a successful and sustainable business, our company needs to generate financial but also social and environmental value. Every business impacts and depends on natural and social capital and will experience risks and opportunities associated with these relationships. Changes in our operations resulting from the significant growth of Food Service Distribution (FSD) business imply the creation of potential new impacts on the society and environment. Therefore, METRO Cash & Carry sought to answer the following question: “What is the difference in terms of impact (on natural and social capital) deriving from 1,000 € sales growth in FSD compared to 1,000 € additional sales in Cash & Carry store?” By assessing our different business models (Cash & Carry and FSD depot) according to the “Natural Capital Protocol and Social Capital Protocol”, we are now able to monetize our environmental and social impacts. The pilot project demonstrates a benefit of 68 € per 1,000 € sales through the FSD depot model compared to the stationary Cash & Carry model.


Sustainability Tree

How sustainable is METRO acting and in which areas does it want to further expand its commitment to the environment in the coming years? How large was the company's CO2 footprint in the past fiscal year and how much energy was already generated from renewable energies? Here we provide you with all information on our goals and key figures - operations